La Trobe students learn lessons about the city beneath their feet
Seventy La Trobe University archaeology students are working with professional archaeologists on an exciting six-week inner city ‘dig’ at the site of a famous former Melbourne landmark – the old Carlton United Brewery.
Based at the top end of Swanston St, the archaeologists are also cataloguing all items that have been uncovered. The dig finishes on 1 March and many items have been found so far.
These range from domestic ceramic crockery and old bottles to industrial items such as barrel stoppers and a large iron furnace stoker.
The artefacts will be conserved by Heritage Victoria and lodged with Museum Victoria so that current and future generations can undertake research on historic material culture.
Executive Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Charles La Trobe Professor of Archaeology Tim Murray, says La Trobe has a globally significant department of archaeology that was awarded a rating of 5, well above world standard, in the recent Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) assessment round.
Expertise in urban and historical archaeology
Staff and a number of graduates have long-standing experience in urban and historical archaeology.
The University has a formal collaborative agreement with the leading heritage firm, Godden Mackay Logan, and senior La Trobe academics often also serve as consultant to these digs.
La Trobe graduates, says Professor Murray, are employed in archaeological projects around the world including many new sites in Australia, such as those related to proposed mining and construction developments.
Other careers open to graduates include a diversity of roles in heritage protection and preservation.
From Ned Kelly to the gold rush
Highlights of past projects by La Trobe staff and students range from discoveries on the site of the pub at Glenrowan in northern Victoria where Ned Kelly made his last stand, to iconic gold-rush locations in Camp St Ballarat.
Other key inner-city digs and research have shed new light on the colorful colonial era ‘Little Lon’ precinct near Lonsdale Street.
Notorious for poverty, crime, pimps and prostitution, we now also know more about inner-city working class housing, family, community and the growth of early Melbourne as a result of this work.
And when the results of the Carlton Brewery dig have been analysed we may gain new insight into the development, life and early industry at the top end of the inner city.
The Carlton United Brewery site is being developed by Grocon construction. Work on the 32 storey building is scheduled to begin in April. – Ernest Raetz